JEFFERSON CITY — House Republicans are proposing to use the federal economic stimulus package to provide a roughly $1 billion tax rebate over two years to Missourians.
House Speaker Ron Richard said Thursday that Republican lawmakers still are working out the details of how the tax rebate would be distributed. He estimated it would amount to $500 per taxpayer.
The push for a rebate comes just days after the House Budget Committee approved spending more than $1 billion from the federal stimulus package on scores of projects including parking garages and social service programs.
Richard, R-Joplin, said many House Republicans expressed concerns that they were spending too much. Republicans decided to change course on the stimulus money after a closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday.
"They're not willing to spend money on the spending frenzy that went on," Richard said. "Our caucus believes that the ultimate stimulization is to have money spent by the people themselves and not spent by government."
Missouri expects to receive more than $4 billion from the federal stimulus package, much of which is earmarked toward specific purposes such as building roads and helping the homeless. At issue is how to spend roughly $2 billion of "budget stabilization" money over which states have more flexibility.
House Republicans are proposing to use $1 billion for the tax rebate spread over two years, hold about $500 million in reserve for next year and use whatever is left for targeted projects, such as a new radio system for the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Deciding which projects in the initial bill make the cut will be left to Richard and Budget Committee Chairman Allen Icet, R-Wildwood. The two lawmakers plan to finish their proposal by Monday.
Lawmakers are operating under a tight schedule. The state's main operating budget must be completed by May 8, and the session ends May 15.
The Senate and Gov. Jay Nixon have taken different approaches than the House in using the federal money.
Nixon in January proposed to spread about $800 million from the "budget stabilization" portion of the stimulus package throughout Missouri's operating budget for the 2010 fiscal year.
The Senate has passed a proposed budget that would use $943 million from the "budget stabilization" portion to help fund state programs and services next year.
The House's proposed tax rebate would have to be approved by the Senate and signed by Nixon for it to take effect.